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Bullpen Brian's Tweets

Derek Holland In Game 7?

By bullpenbrian - October 24, 2011 - 1:50 am Leave a comment.

If there’s a downside to Derek Holland’s brilliant outing in game 4, (besides his pitiful cookie duster!) it’s that he likely won’t be available to start a potential Game 7 scheduled Thursday night in St. Louis.

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Kinsler Saves Series, Ogando

By bullpenbrian - October 21, 2011 - 2:01 am Leave a comment.

Ian Kinsler(notes) #5 of the Texas Rangers steals second base ahead of the tag by Rafael Furcal(notes) #15 of the St. Louis Cardinals in the ninth inning during Game Two of the MLB World Series at Busch Stadium on October 20, 2011 in St Louis, Missouri

“It wasn’t a Series-saving rally, but it was huge.” -Ian Kinsler

Sorry Charlie, but I couldn’t disagree more!

Of the 50 World Series that began 2-0, the team having won the first two games has gone on to win the series 40 times. That’s good for 80-percent.

So it’s hard to believe Texas would’ve rebounded from those long odds, even with the series shifting to Arlington for Game 3.

Thankfully, for those of us rooting for the Rangers, it’s still a winnable series due to a dramatic, and historic, ninth inning comeback–thanks in large part to Kinsler’s leadoff single and clutch stolen base to ignite the top of the ninth inning.

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Giving St. Louis Its Due

By bullpenbrian - October 20, 2011 - 2:01 pm Leave a comment.

At some point I’ll have to give St. Louis credit for winning games this postseason.

I’m not ready to do just yet, even though they’ve ventured deep into October winning the NLDS, the NLCS and taking a 1-0 lead in the World Series.

Game after game, round after round…the Cards lull to sleep its opposition with shaky starting pitching, a patch work bullpen and just enough offense.

It’s certainly not pretty baseball, but it’s certainly not all luck, either.

My hesitation to acknowledge the Cards’ success is, without question, my sour grapes as a Cubs fan. But more so, I’m soured by the fact Philly bowed out so easily in the NLDS, and by Milwaukee’s bumbling fielding and lack of clutch hitting in the NLCS. Awful performances for two of the league’s better teams.

Now, it seems, Texas is following suite–rolling over like a damn dog and letting the Cards walk on by…just like the rest of the NL. (How many more times will the Rangers stare at a called strike 1,2 & 3 trailing by one run late in the game?)

No doubt the game’s greatest hitter, an ace pitcher and a dominate closers can take you far, even more so with one of the game’s greatest managers.

Maybe the Cards deserve a little credit, after all. But I think I’ll wait until they win the World Series to give it to them.

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Baby I Like Texas!

By bullpenbrian - October 19, 2011 - 1:01 am 1 comment.

Two reasons I’m picking the Rangers to win the World Series.

First of all, I made the awful mistake of choosing hitting over pitching in last year’s Fall Classic. Not smart.

Any good baseball fan knows good pitching beats good hitting, especially in the postseason, and that was more than evident with San Fran’s dominate staff last October.

Secondly, I just can’t bring myself to pick St. Louis seeing as they’re the Cubs’ biggest rival. I know that’s not the most sound prognostication, but I’d rather not jeopardize any good karma choosing the Cards to win it all.

Wishful thinking aside, there’s no clear evidence suggesting either club has better starting pitching.

So why choose Texas?

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World Series Set, Almost

By bullpenbrian - October 13, 2011 - 2:30 pm Leave a comment.

Get ready for a St. Louis-Texas World Series.

I’m speaking ‘unofficially,’ of course, but that’s where the LCS’s are headed.

Texas has the all too commanding 3-1 lead over Detroit. And even with the Tigers throwing Justin Verlander in Game 5…at best they’ll need him to come back on three days rest for a potential Game 7 in Arlington.

The Rangers’ bullpen, more so than its potent lineup, has been the difference maker. The relief corps allowed just a single run through 15 innings of the first three games–and one run in Game 4. Simply, Lights. Out.

Meanwhile, back in St. Louis…the Cardinals and Chris Carpenter withstood Milwaukee’s best chance to gain the series winning Game 3, 4-3.

For all intents and purposes, Yovani Gallardo lost the game, and perhaps the series, in the first inning allowing the first five Cardinals to reach base. Four of those runners scored–and that was that.

Cards win game. Cards take 2-1 series lead.

In fact, the Cardinals bullpen retired the last 12 Milwaukee hitters in a row and allowed just a single base runner from the fifth inning on. Sound familiar, Detroit fans?

Now St. Louis feasts on Randy Wolf in Game 4, coming off a 7 ER performance in his NLDS start vs. Arizona. And for dessert, a tasty treat of Zach Greinke and his 9.00 postseason ERA in Game 5.

The Brewers have lost eight consecutive postseason games on the road. They don’t beat the Cardinals in Milwaukee, and now they have to take 3 of 4 to win the series.

Not impossible, but not likely either.

St. Louis vs. Texas. Who knew?

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Freak Show In San Francisco

By bullpenbrian - November 2, 2010 - 11:30 am 2 comments.

This wasn’t the World Series I was looking for six days ago. The two teams I  wanted were there, but the five-game series was largely dominated by San Fran.

Other than the Giants’ brilliant starting pitching, neither side played well. There was a lack of drama and the big-ticket pitching match-ups never fully materialized. Just wasn’t a very memorable Fall Classic, unfortunately.

I still believe having two teams that were not expected to be league champions is good for baseball, despite the low TV ratings.  A competitive six or seven game series would have been better, of course, better  for the fans, and yes, better for television. But for me, this series was still better than watching New York vs. Philly.

Lots of praise was heaped on Cliff Lee, and rightfully so, but Tim Lincecum  reminded us he’s an ace, too. Lee loss both his starts. ‘The Freak’ won both of his. I think most fans, including myself, thought Lee would nab at  least one victory. Lincecum’s performances, however, was the deciding factor in the series.

Tim Kirkjian said it best about the Giants: “They’re not always pretty to watch, but they win.” Curt Schilling said on ESPN that he believes “the best team always wins.” For certain, the Giants had the better pitching, and better pitching usually wins.

Looking back, I think the Giants would have toppled either New York or Tampa Bay. The Yankees pitching is on par with Texas, and the Rays’ lineup is sub-par to Texas–not that such speculation really matters.

You could see Edgar Renteria’s three-run homer coming from a mile away. Lee was looking tired having allowed back-to-back singles to Ross and Uribe, which marked the first time a Giant reached second base all game.

When Lee missed badly on his first two pitches to Renteria, you knew a strike was coming next. Renteria didn’t miss it, clubbed the winning home run and pocketed the MVP Award. I understand Lee’s mentality to go-after hitters, but the decision not to pitch around Edgar will always be questioned.

Here’s to wishing Lee doesn’t sign with the damn Yankees this offseason. He’s a good fit for the Rangers, or any team for that matter, but anywhere other New York would suite me fine. St. Louis, however, would be tough to swallow!

I’m very interested to see were the Giants turn. Do they keep their castoffs that just won the title or start moving again in a younger direction?

And after watching San Fran’s starting pitching end 56 years of frustration, remind me again why the Cubs dealt Ted Lilly?

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DVR Reveals Lee’s Woes

By bullpenbrian - October 28, 2010 - 12:01 am Leave a comment.

My Wednesday night package for the Blackhawks had me scoreboard watching Game 1 from the 300-level seats at the United Center. Hawks vs. L.A. isn’t quite Lincecum vs. Lee, but that’s the beauty of a DVR.

Couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw SF leading 8-2 in the fifth. The Giants are far from an offensive juggernaut, and this was against Cliff Lee?

The DVR, however, revealed two things we haven’t seen from Lee this postseason. One, he regularly worked deep in the count. Two, he left the ball up in the zone.

The Giants’ patience paid off by forcing Lee to throw more than 100-pitches through 4.2 innings. This was key because not all their hits were hard, but had just enough wood to knock him out early.

The long layoff in between starts didn’t appear to be in Lee’s favor, either. Which was also the case with Roy Halladay after his no-hitter.

But I’d say the chances of Lee repeating his performance from Wednesday night are slim. He’ll be back to his regular routine, and he’s simply too good not to rebound.

Winning Game 1 is always a huge victory. (Game 1 winners have won the series 61-percent of the time). But it goes without saying what kind of confidence builder this is for San Fran–defeating a once unbeatable force in Lee.

The pressure, obviously, is squarely on Texas for Game 2. The offense was there having scored seven runs, but it’s all about the pitching. No question the biggest hurdle will be recovering from Lee’s hangover.

PS – Blackhawks won 3-1!

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Rangers Giants Picture Perfect

By bullpenbrian - October 25, 2010 - 12:01 am Leave a comment.

SI.com

Watching the Rangers win the ALCS was beautiful.
Literally, the weather, the crowd shots, the fireworks–picture perfect.

It’s been a while since a baseball game had me jumping off the couch in celebration. But Vlady’s two-out two-run double in the fifth had me leaping for joy, as did Nelson Cruz’s monstrous two-run homer that landed in the deepest part of the ballpark!

For me personally, it goes a step further. I say the Ranger’s monumental victory saves the 2010 season. Witnessing New York win another World Series with a $200-million payroll couldn’t be any more anti-climatic.

Meanwhile, whoever thought Philadelphia’s three-headed monster of Halladay, Hamels and Oswalt would fall short against San Fran?

Lots of attention is being given to the band of misfits headlined by Aubrey Huff, Pat Burrell, and Cody Ross. And without question, it’s well deserved. But Lincecum, Cain and Sanchez isn’t a bad threesome, either. Downing H2O in six games was no fluke.

This matchup makes for a terrific World Series. There are plenty of good storylines, good pitching and good defense, and I’m happy no matter who wins.

If I must choose a winner, however, I like Texas. Cliff Lee is likely to get two starts and the Rangers lineup is dominate compared to a Giants offense that’s scored four or more runs in just two of its 10 postseason games.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qk5wXdKVemM&fs=1&hl=en_US&color1=0x006699&color2=0x54abd6]

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Cliff Lee Yankees’ Daddy

By bullpenbrian - October 19, 2010 - 12:01 am 4 comments.

I picked the winner of Game 3 to win the ALCS. Texas in the World Series…who would have thunk it?

The series, of course, is far from over, but the Rangers have been in control since the first inning of Game 1. And with Cliff Lee, Ron Washington’s bunch knows anything is possible– including toppling the mighty Yankees.

Lee just makes it look so easy out there. Poised, in control and hardly a sweat to wipe off his brow. The man’s not only dominated this postseason, but holds a career 7-0 record and 1.26 ERA in October. Unreal!

How many pitchers in baseball can do what Lee did Monday night at Yankee Stadium? Eight innings, two hits, 13 strikeouts…against NY…in October. I know this much–not many.

Lee’s been so ridiculous he’s become the first pitcher to achieve double digits in strikeouts three times in one postseason. Which means what?

It means we’re watching one of the best postseason pitchers ever. And for those who are wondering, that is possible for players not wearing a Yankees or Red Sox uniform.

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Cliff Lee Best Pitcher In Baseball

By bullpenbrian - October 13, 2010 - 12:01 am 2 comments.

Clifton Phifer Lee has become my favorite lefty since Tom Glavine retired.
Probably because Lee pitches like Glavine–with grace and with his head.

Earlier this year I hailed Lee as the best pitcher in baseball.
He showed why during the ALDS against Tampa Bay:
(2-0), 1-ER in 16 innings pitched, 21 strikeouts and zero walks.
Simply ridiculous!

Hard to believe Lee was passed over on waivers when the Indians shipped him to Triple-A Buffalo in July of 2007. Granted he was (5-8) with an unsightly 6.38 ERA at the time, but just a year later he would rebound to win the AL Cy Young Award going (22-8) with a 2.54 ERA.

Then try and wrap your brain around the Indians trading Lee to Philadelphia, who in turn dealt him to Seattle, who then made a joke of it by dealing Lee to Texas. And this is how the league treats its best starting pitcher in the game!

But that’s what I love most about Lee, his desire to succeed is stronger than his left arm. He’s handled the negatives, the trades and the pressure with absolute poise. He’s delivered at every stop, made every team he’s on better and dominated opponents throughout.

The only way it gets better from here is if Lee leads the Rangers past New York.  And I wouldn’t be at all surprised if he does.

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